Notes: The 2004 Ford Explorer one of our worst vehicles on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Another common problem for the 2002-2005 Explorer is wheel bearing failure at around 90k miles, with a typical repair bill of $500 to $1000 depending on how many wheel bearings failed.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
75,166 miles
Total Complaints:
756 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (293 reports)
  2. not sure (202 reports)
  3. replace panel (115 reports)
  4. possible class action lawsuit (62 reports)
  5. call Ford motor company 1-800-241-3673 (27 reports)
  6. do not buy Ford again (25 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 38)

problem #756

Jul 042013

Explorer Limited 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


I have seen many Ford Explorers with this same issue. I don't understand why Ford won't fix this issue it is clearly a defect on all Explorers. I will NEVER BUY A FORD.

- , Keller, TX, US

problem #755

Feb 222012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Looks like a common problem but Ford refuses to acknowledge issue. Very expensive to fix and it re-occurs after fixing

- , Loveland, CO, USA

problem #754

Sep 152010

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

My 2004 Ford Explorer as of today 10/7/2016 has a little over 80k miles, so not very much miles!!! The crack around the back emblem started in 2010 and is completely around the emblem!! Every Ford Explorer I've seen seems to have this same issue and apparently due to poor manufacturing in that particular area!!! Ford needs to recall and fix this!!!!

- , Lancaster, SC, US

problem #753

Feb 042017

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,111 miles


ford knows about the problem it on all of the cars

- , Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #752

Dec 212016

Explorer Limited 5.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,618 miles

Called Ford Motor about the Explorer, all I got was that they would "note it" for reference and transferred me to my local dealer. Talked to a very nice service rep who tried to get Ford to fix it. A very well known fact that Ford knows about from the beginning and just refused to fix it.

- , Springfield, MO, US

problem #751

Sep 012015

Explorer XLT Sport 4x4 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

This was cracked when I got vehicle. Noticed it seems to be common for explorers/mountaineers of the lineage.

- , Egg Harbor City, NJ, USA

problem #750

Jan 022016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


The lift gate cracked about a year ago on my Explorer. I have a friend whose also cracked. I posted on facebook today about it, and there are about 30 people commented that their Ford Explorer liftgate cracked also. This seems to be a problem that Ford needs to correct. No reason for the body of any vehicle to crack like this.

- , Morganton, NC, USA

problem #749

Aug 202015

Explorer LX

  • Manual transmission
  • 160,000 miles

Crack on rear panel. Notice several other Explorers about the same model year with the same issue.

- , Wausau, WI, USA

problem #748

Dec 102013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,469 miles


- , Byron, GA, USA

problem #747

Apr 152006

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

after 4 years living with the cracks, a rear end accident forced entire door to be replaced. I thought problem was solved. 6 months later, it cracked again. It now has 3 cracks. The panel is now taped on to hopefully stop panel from falling off. It looks terrible and will certainly influence selling or trade-in.I am in Fl., and 98% are craked. Can't believe Ford can get away without solving the problem. Ford has refused to fix it.

- , Holiday, FL, USA

problem #746

Jan 012007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


have repaired several times...

- , Stratford, CT, USA

problem #745

Jul 212007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,500 miles

I have contacted Ford about this problem and I was told they had no complaints. Just about all the 04 Explorers I have seen have the same problem. Ford needs to take care of this as good customer relations. They must have had many complaints about this problem. From 05 on the gate design has been changed. FORD ... ARE YOU LISTENING ...???????

- , Clarksville, MD, USA

problem #744

Mar 022016

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

My Explorer has the crack on the rear hatch just right of the Ford logo, which appears to be a VERY common flaw. Ford needs to make this right!

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #743

Jun 192015

Explorer XLT 4.0L Sohc V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,370 miles

So when is Ford going to make good on this. I asked at my mechanic shop and they tell me they have a couple of customers who had their glass shatter after reporting the rear trim plate had cracked. I think that once the trim cracked it causes some stress on the glass and can make glass explode. I am concerned that it could happen to me.

No one seems to offer a fix except to replace panel. It looks like the panel is glued to glass underneath and this would take a special procedure to remove it. Can't seem to get any answers. The dealer tells me it will cost about $500.00 to replace and will not cover it under any type of recall or warranty.

When is Ford going to live up to their defect and issue a recall? I have owned 3 Explorers all from new and This is the first I've seen this happen. Will think twice before buying a new one this year.

- , Myrtle Beach, SC, USA

problem #742

Feb 022009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,500 miles

It seemed like my panel cracked because of the cold since it was just there when I woke up one morning. Every Explorer of the same vintage that I see on the road has the same crack. Ford wants owners to be loyal, yet they let this widespread problem go unresolved.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #741

Jan 192016

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Well, on January 19, 2016, I joined the thousands of explorer owners who have had their rear hatch panel crack from bottom of rear window, to bottom of panel. I have a 2004 with just 96k miles! Nope, it's not freeze related, so don't believe that crap. I'm in Wa, and there was no freeze. No it isn't the wiper motor, as some have claimed. In the morning it wasn't there(45 degrees), and in the midday(50 degrees) it was cracked. I believe it's a material fatigue. Why didn't jerks at ford just use aluminum or some other metal instead of some stupid hybrid formula. Considering all the use a hatch panel gets, you'd think someone would have a brain, but apparently collectively, they didnt. I researched the class action suit going on, and it's a joke. ford managed to get the critical fix part of suit dismissed, so I doubt we'll get jack. I also did research on the fix. The only one out there worth anything is a plastic after market panel. To get it all done is still over $200ish for panel, install, and painting. not sure I will do it, but will wait until summer when weather dry and sunny. I haven't heard or read anything that guarantees the replacement will be crack free for life. If I had known the problem spanned 4 years of models, I wouldn't have bought it. A friend of mine owns a 2003, and his crack is far worse, and he never got it fixed. In 2004, or so, ford changed materials, but found it still cracked, and still no recall. I believe that since it's a body defect, ford should step up and pay for the replacement panels, and installs. Part of me wants to join other thousands and leave the crack for all to see. Would I buy another ford? well yes. And that's because other automakers are just as bad, and sometimes worse. A crack in a back panel wont kill us, unlike other problems with other vehicles. I got this explorer in 2008, but there wasn't enough on the internet to suggest I shouldn't buy it. Now there is. Time tells. When this vehicle croaks, if I don't first, I'm not sure at this point what I would get. It's rare to have honesty in manufacturing these days, so it's buyer beware for virtually everything. I bought my explorer used, and can say i'm really glad I did. Can you imagine outlaying a small fortune, and possibly still having payments and having this happen? sucky. When and if, I get the panel repaired, I will post the outcome.

Oh, and before I forget, I got some silicon seal that stays flexible, as you really should seal any cracks anyway. Plus, I sealed the lower rubber of the window, just to be sure all would stay dry. There could be more problems if moisture gets to motor, or wiring, or whatever, so don't put it off. So far the clear flexible seal is working thru tons of rain. And, by the way, my friend who has a 2003; his crack went down the center and affected his locking the hatch. i'm fortunate as mine was to the right side of the ford logo(awful reminder), and so lock not affected. But, there's no guarantee another crack wont show up somewhere with material fatigue. That's what makes this whole problem with us owners, irritating. Ford should fix all their major complaints for everything!!!

- , Lynnwood, WA, USA

problem #740

Jan 172016

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Purchased this car in 2004. Only 40,000 miles. Concerns me that this problem could get even worse. One day no crack, next day, large crack. Ford should repair this problem, especially since I found out this is a problem with a LARGE amount of Explorers. This is THEIR oversight, and they should be responsible for the repair.

I'm not asking for money, I'm asking for a repair due to Ford's negligence.

What's right is right - and the right thing to do in this instance is for Ford to issue a repair for all damaged vehicles.

- , Morrow, GA, US

problem #739

Jan 152006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Every Ford Explorer I see with this panel below the rear window has this crack in the same area of the panel. Why would this be if there wasn't something wrong with this design. I would love not look at this every time I go back there but it's there and every Ford Explorer I get behind in traffic and see in a parking lot and every where else I go. It is something that I'm living with but if I had known about this problem I never would have bought a Ford Explorer .... What ever Ford could do for all the people with this problem would really be appreciated, I'm sure they would keep future customers. If not they may lose a lot of sales. Do it for the consumer this time. It is ugly

- , Stratford, CT, USA

problem #738

Oct 282015

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

The crack in the rear panel appeared shortly after purchasing this Ford. I had contacted Ford who said there was nothing in their records of this being an issue! It was not how many Fords had the issue vs. how few did not. I actually had it fixed at my local Ford Dealer for $450.00. Thought the issue was put to rest, until I walked out and saw that the CRACK had REAPPERED. Repair lasted 2 years! Definately a design issue. I will never purchase another Ford.

- , Frisco, TX, USA

problem #737

Dec 282011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

I was told by a dealer that this happens mostly during the winter months, water gets behind the panel, freezes, and then when you shut the window it causes it to break.

- , Alvaton, KY, USA

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